[ISN] Mad as hell, switching to Mac

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri May 27 03:27:24 EDT 2005


By Winn Schwartau
Network World

This is my first column written on a Mac - ever. Maybe I should have 
done it a long time ago, but I never said I was smart, just obstinate. 
I was a PC bigot. 

But now, I've had it. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it 

In the coming weeks I'm going to keep a diary of an experiment my 
company began at 6 p.m. April 29, 2005 - an experiment predicated on 
the hypothesis that the WinTel platform represents the greatest 
violation of the basic tenets of information security and has become a 
national economic security risk. I do not say this lightly, and I have 
never been a Microsoft basher, either. I never criticize a company 
without a fair bit of explanation, justification and supportive 

I have come to the belief that there is a much easier, more secure way
to use computers. After having spent several years focusing my
security work on Ma, Pa and the Corporate Clueless [1], I also have
come to the conclusion that if I'm having such security problems,
heaven help the 98% of humanity who merely want a computer for e-mail
and multimedia.

Even though I'm a security guy going on 22 years now, my day-to-day 
work is pretty much like everyone else's. I live on laptops and use my 
desktops at home and the office for geeking and experimenting. My two 
day-to-day laptops (two, for 24/7 backup) are my business machines. I 
don't need them to do a whole lot - except work reliably, which is why 
I am fed up with WinTel. 

I want my computer to function every time I turn it on. I want my 
computer to not corrupt data when it does crash. I use a handful of 
applications: Microsoft Office, e-mail, browser, FTP client and some 
multimedia toys. Regardless of format, they should work without 

I live on the 'Net. I do not want my browser to eat up all of my 
memory. In the WinTel world I need an assortment of third-party tools 
to try to keep my PC alive. That's just crazy. 

Why does WinTel have these problems? I have heard all sorts of 
explanations, and I don't subscribe to any of them. I've come up with 
my own (hopefully rational) reasons WinTel will fail - and has to 

Windows is complex, trying to be everything to everyone. This 
complexity comes at a terrible price: downtime, help desks, upgrades, 
patches and the inevitable failures. 

When a new operating system or service pack is released, there are 
tons of changes to the functionality.

WinTel machines use different versions of BIOS. They are not all 
equal, nor do they all have the same level of compatibility. 

Some Windows software applications are well written; others take 
shortcuts. Shortcuts may work in some environments, but not all, and 
ultimately the consumer pays in lost time, availability and 

Hardware. There are hundreds of "WinTel-compatible" motherboards, each 
claiming to be better than the next. Whatever. 

Memory. Not all RAM is equal. Some works well. Cheap stuff doesn't. 

Hard disks. Same problem: cheap or reliable. Your call. 

Here's my answer to the WinTel problem: We need an open Simple 
Operating System (SOS) that meets the needs of the majority of people 
who buy PCs for everyday home and enterprise tasks. Get rid of the 
complexity and simplify the interface between SOS, BIOS and hardware. 
In other words, KISS. You know what it means. KISS SOS. 

Because SOS doesn't exist yet, my company has given up on WinTel. We
have successfully moved to Mac in less than two days. Think about it:  
a security-friendly alternative that works and doesn't require gobs of
third-party utilities to safely perform the most mundane tasks. Please
follow the details of our experiment at
http://securityawareness.blogspot.com. It's already way more
interesting than I thought it would be.

[1] http://securityawareness.blogspot.com/

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